The $5 Raspberry Pi Zero

Rumors about a new Raspberry Pi have been circulating around the Internet for the past week or so. Speculation has ranged from an upgraded Model A or compute module to a monster board with Gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.0, SATA and a CPU that isn’t even in production yet. The time is now, and the real news is even more interesting: it’s a $5 Raspberry Pi Zero. It’s the smallest Pi yet, while still keeping the core experience.

In recent months, tiny Linux boards have followed the march of technology and become ever more capable and less expensive. The purest expression of this is the C.H.I.P., the $9 single board Linux computer that made waves simply for how inexpensive it is. The Raspberry Pi Zero is even cheaper, and looking at the spec sheet, is even more capable.

The core of the Raspberry Pi Zero is the Broadcom BCM2835 – the same system on chip found in the original Raspberry Pi. This time, it’s running at 1GHz,  – 40% faster than the Raspberry Pi 1. There’s 512 MB of RAM in this board, and of course like all Pis the standard 40-pin header is included.

The December issue of MagPi includes a Pi Zero on the cover

Building such a small board meant the Raspberry Pi foundation needed to cut a few ports from the Zero. Ethernet and the quartet of USB ports found in the Pi Model B+ are gone; there’s simply nowhere to put them. Instead, the Pi Zero includes a mini-HDMI socket, and two micro USB ports – one for power and data, another for USB OTG. Composite video remains on an unpopulated header, and storage is through a microSD card slot.

In the years since the release of the Raspberry Pi, it has become the defacto tiny Linux computer. A few contenders to the throne have shown up, though, with the most interesting being the smallest. While the Raspberry Pi Compute Module isn’t much of a success, we’ve seen a lot of tiny boards like the ODROID-W, and Carambola finding their way into the coolest projects. Part of this is the size of these modules, being able to fit into anything is a big bonus. With a price of only $5 – and without $20 in shipping that the C.H.I.P. was criticized for – the Pi Zero is going to be a very, very popular board.

The Raspberry Pi Zero should be available from the usual vendors – Element14, The Pi Hut, Pimoroni, Adafruit, and Micro Center – starting today. If you have a subscription to Magpi, the official Raspberry Pi magazine, you’re in luck: the December issue will include a Pi Zero right on the cover.

329 thoughts on “The $5 Raspberry Pi Zero

  1. I’m amazed at the amount of whinging on here today about this..

    “Ohh it doesnt have ethernet *sad face*”

    ” *sniff* chips not brand new”

    ” *Wahhhh* I wantz moar stuff”

    For Offlers sake, its £4… Thats less than a pint in the more metropolitan areas, especially if you want a fancy ‘un.

    And reading the small print on Farnell, they include some adaptors and stuff.. Still not the cheapest but not too bad..

    I’m about to shimmy down to Smithys to see if they stock the MagPi, total delivery cost, 10mins of shoe leather. Might even get a pie too… Meat and Tater obviously..

    1. The lack of ethernet makes no sense though…
      How would one get network without ether / USB?
      I really wish they could hop up the generation-ladder at some point. Proper GBit ethernet cannot be that hard…

      1. If there is usb OTG on one of the usb ports, couldn’t you use a USB to Ethernet adapter on that? (if you really HAD to)…. I also wonder if there might be a way to use UART on the RPiZero headers and hook up to an esp8266? I welcome feedback because I am not sure on either of these points.

  2. Dont know where my last comment went:The chinese shipping is something I really dont understand. I can ship stuff for almost free from China. But this is only through outlets like aliexpress. When I have to ask an alibaba seller to ship out stuff China Registered airmail still is expensive. There must be some way these aliexpress sellers sell for such low prices. Has anyone got

  3. Pricing is again a problem.

    This seems like at great little product, but I am offended by the 5$ claim, to me it seems disingenuous to brag with a price that is never realistic to the end user – especially considering who ought to be the audience.

    It is the same story we saw when the Pi2 was released, a price in dollars, but not possible to buy anywhere in the world.
    If the foundation mean that the net wholesale price, excluding any taxes, would be so and so, well then be honest and state that.

    Also the foundation is English, the board is developed in the UK, and produced in Whales, so why in heavens name state the price in US$ – I have discussed this earlier with the foundation, and received at lame explanation that the price with Broadcom is settled in Dollars.
    And so what, that is an internal problem within the foundation, from my point of view I do not care whether they pay in Dollars, Rubler or bananas, this is a product introduced on the EU marked, produced within the EU, so the pricing should be according to this – all other vendors can do that.

    But trying to criticize the foundation on that matter is taken very ill up, which I see as a shame, as they imo. makes them selves seem dishonest.

    They should have at least one reseller in the UK, selling at this and this price, inkluding VAT, and if this street price then turns out to be £8,50 (or whatever it turns out to be), then is shall be announced as a £8,50 computer, not a unrealistic 5$ price – everything else is not decent.

    1. In the UK it is a £4 computer ( before retailers add their extras and postage)

      But the US dollar is the closest thing we have to a world currency. Add to that, costs are routinely quoted in US$ for manufacturing especially where parts are sourced internationally.

      Makes sense then for them to release this as “the 5$ computer” instead of their particular local currency which most of the world probably isn’t familiar with. indeed some wouldnt know the difference between the country it was made in and a large mammal.

      1. No it does not make sense for a vendor inside the EU to use US$ as the currency – I know that the Americans in their on view think the own the entire world, but that is actually not the case.
        It would make much more sense using the Euro.

        And honestly, that the currency used for buying components is in US$ should not be an external problem, but only a problem internally – most other European vendors do not act in this odd way.

        And I see no problem in postage, but it can be a problem when used as a hidden profit.

        But if we look away from the postage, the netprice at Farnell here in Denmark, WITHOUT VAT is 92DDk, where the price at the PiHut is the 4£ INCLUDING VAT (3,33£ ex ~ 35DDk), equivalent to 42DDk – so the price in Denmark is nearly 3 times the price in the UK, and transport from UK to Denmark is quite cheep, so per unit it is close to zero.

        So if the foundation do have a profit of maybe 1£ per unit, the resellers do have a profit in the range 6-10£, which I in no way see as fair.

        Imo the foundation need to tell their resellers, that the condition for selling is the they do not gain a unproportional high profit.

        The big problem is, that the foundation brags about the “5$” computer, but the reality is that the street price in 95% of the cases is between 3 and 4 times higher.
        Which so indeed hurts the street cred of an otherwise very good product.

        1. Huh. I really don’t understand why you’re bothered about this. It’s a cheap computer. The base price, before you go importing, exporting, taxing and bundling it in a box of junk, is $5. Therefore it’s a $5 computer. Or a £4 computer or a 65 banana computer. Which ever currency you look at it from. It. Is. a. cheap. computer. Hey, to save some space on the press release, and to make it comparable to every other thing ever made, let’s just use the most common currency on the planet, USD. RasPi foundation are a non-profit charity. They’re not making £1 on each.

          I bought it at £4. It’s a £4 computer. Hard luck if you happen to live somewhere where it becomes a $5.89 computer. It doesn’t matter.

          1. You really don’t get the point – it is not the matter that a “5$” computer gets a 5,89$ computer, but that the price gets 3-4 times AS HIGH!
            If you buy a cell phone in Korea it might be some 20-30% cheaper than in Europe, that’s fair enough, but the price is not a quarter of the European price.
            And the product makes no sense when the price is nearly the same as the B+.
            But ok, it is Eben & Co’s problem that they appear unreliable, and it gives room for competition if others (in a globalized world!) wants to make a true 5$ computer, not a computer that you only can get in two specific shops in one country.

    1. Personally a lot of hardware looks more interesting than (insert RaspberryPi of choice), it is really more of a form factor thing. Right now this has the edge, in a few months we will probably see a Pi-Zero-2 and any number of similarly sized competitor boards.

  4. “You can buy The MagPi in all good newsagents, as well as these high street stores:


    Well apparently my town has fucking terrible newsagents, searched those three stores and more – no copies of MagPi anywhere.

    1. I asked in my local WHSmith and they said they don’t carry it, but weirdly they did have a thick Amiga collectors magazine… didn’t get it though, I still have my meter high stack of old Amiga mags.

  5. I dunno once I get past the ZOMFG that is small!!11!1!oneo!11oneuno!1!1!!

    I start taking in all the little things that just make it not quite practical for most of my applications. Like the lack of PiCamera support and native megabit ethernet, etc. It loses a lot of it’s WOW factor steam.

    Still at the very least it has bumped itself just slight over Arduino for most of my smaller projects. Save for things that only really require something like an ATtiny :P

    I will say I am definitely looking forward to seeing what the Pi-Zero-2 or be or whatever, has to offer. Along with what other competition will offer with a similar form factor.

  6. Anyone know if I could solder a keyboard onto the GPIO? As in cut a keyboard’s wire, strip the ends, wire it into GPIO and it work? I doubt it’s that simple but what would be required there? I have ideas and this thing is a good compromise since i literally don’t need what the Pi2 gives. This offers enough, if I can cheat and use GPIO for things.

    Say I can get a keyboard wired to GPIO, what ELSE can go there?

  7. As everyone here has already pointed out, it isn’t $5, it’s $5 + rip ship from the usual ripoff middlemen/distributors. Adafruit is “sold out” but offers the “budget pack” for “just” $29.99. Micro-center is In-Store Pickup Only with no indication of how many are stocked. Like the original $20 raspberry pi A (did anyone ever get one shipped at that price?), this thing certain to go up in price with general availability.

    I believe this one is still the lowest priced raspberry pi-like sbc that you can buy (also featured on HAD):
    $18.50 shipped.

  8. And the usual rip-ship “official distributors” . Adafruit is sold out, but their “budget pack” is “only” $29.99. Microcenter is “in-store pickup only” with no mention of stock. Like the “$20” model A, this thing will never arrive at your doorstep for even close to the advertised price. The cheapest Pi-clone I know if is the Orange Pi PC (also featured here on HAD) by SZ XunLong. It’s $18.50 shipped from China. XunLong is not affiliated in any way with the raspberry pi foundation, or their slick distributors.

      1. Aiya, ALL stores are selling for the advertised price…. +shipping.

        The only exception is Microcenter, which claims “10+ in stock” picking any local store. But today is a holiday. It will be interesting to see if anyone gets a black-friday $5 deal (+tax). Because “10+ in stock” can mean 11 (minus whatever the employees picked out for themselves before the store opened).

  9. This race to the bottom is getting a little bit ridiculous. So we now have a fully functional Pi for $5 but if you actually want to use it you will need to buy additional parts. I get the idea of cutting costs by not including features not everyone would need. But by the time you buy a USB adapter and have it shipped you will pretty much have paid another $5, which is the same cost as the Pi to begin with. If you want to use the GPIO pins you will need to buy pin header and solder it yourself. If you want networking you will need to buy a networking adapter on top of your USB adapter and maybe even an external powered hub to source the required current. Granted you may have some of this lying around but then again you may not.

    Maybe it is just me but I would rather buy a $10+ board that has some of these features included like a regular USB port and pin header. As is this board is not usable on it’s own. In fact it can’t really do anything because there is no way to use a terminal window without using at least 2 additional components, not including a power source.

    1. I get what you are saying with all the hidden costs of needing extra hardware to get the thing running. However that really depends on where you are and what you plan on using it for/as.

      For example I have everything to get one of these up and running the second I bring one home *knock on wood*. Got a Mini HDMI converter for my C1 back before they started using standard HDMI and a Micro USB to USB converter cable from an Android tablet from forever ago. Those where the two big ones, have tons of Micro SD laying around and plenty of power sources.

      Since I plan on running it headless the most I might use long term would be the USB adapter if I decide to leave a WiFi adapter plugged into it.

  10. $5 for the board $5 for the mini-hdmi adapter, $10 for the otg cable (or au$20 for the board, $8 for the mini-hdmi adapter, $15 for otg cable)… seems like they saved pennies on parts so we have to spend dollars to make it work (remember the target market they are claiming it’s for) if they made the board just a smidge wider they could put the full size usb and hdmi ports on it.

    1. OTG cables aren’t that expensive. I bought a few at various places for less than $2 from China. I got a mini HDMI cable for about $3. It is more reliable than an adapter.

      You can get DIY USB connectors along with plastic case and strain relieve e.g. Micro USB connector, male USB, female USB, mini USB. Now I have a set to make/repair/customize my own cables.

  11. Maybe when the initial rush is over, they will be available at something like the advertised price. If so, it could be good for certain types of IOT application where power consumption and size are not critical. The key point is the wide selection of software for the Pi. Most of the interesting IOT software is available on the Pi. On the other hand, there is no Ethernet port and you can’t even easily add a wifi dongle so it’s usefulness will be limited. In the short term this can be fudged with an ESP8266 module but they will need to include onboard wifi to be competitive with the CHIP from a hardware POV. I am waiting for my CHIP to turn up to see if it has sufficient software support to meet my IOT needs. That has been the limiting factor for all the other similar low cost modules I have tried.

  12. So you can make a raspi with all included for 5 bucks, but samsung and apple can’t put a SD card slot on their $800+ phones.

    Anyway getting more on subject; I think this will sell out constantly and when it becomes available in my area it’ll be at least $25.

  13. Would be great if Pee foundation let you order stripped down versions – less populated elements = faster production = cheaper.
    If im doing a portable game console KS or something I dont need HDMI/USB sockets, should knock another $0.5 from the price.

    I wonder if Avago has anything to do with this Pee Foundation move. Did they do it to show Avago they can move volume? Or did Avago decided Pee is good for business and originated Zero idea?

  14. Noticed this over on, not mentioned in editorial/comments here, so:

    “The Raspberry Pi Zero is a special edition model, so nothing (long-term availability, price stability, feature set or form factor) is guaranteed past the initial production run(s). However, if it’s popular enough, it’s quite possible that more will be made.”

    1. That is the kicker for me. It now seems clear that the zero is a loss leader intended to grab attention, which it did. I would be willing to bet that if it were to become generally available the price would be nearer $10. At $5 without wifi, it can make sense for IOT applications in conjunction with a ESP8266, but at a higher price there are better alternatives coming along. At the low end the new ESP32 looks interesting. At the high end the Samsung Artik chips look good if the price turns out right. As I want to deploy a lot of IOT devices, I can’t afford to find that the board becomes unavailable. I will wait for now. If they introduce a version with wifi at $10 that will be very interesting. To me, the main advantage of the RPi is the size of the community that leads to a great body of solutions and quick fixes to issues.

  15. Oh for Blind Io’s sake…. Trawled the local establishments for the past couple of days trying to get a copy of MagPi, with no luck..

    Looked on eBay this morning, there’s loads going for up to £40! This reeeeeally irritates me, I’m guessing people have bought multiple copies just to scalp some dosh.

    Same thing happened a few times when Games Workshop did special releases. Sells out straight away so some greasy oik can make an extra tenner or so..

  16. I had one reserved for pickup at MicroCenter this morning. Half-hour before they opened they emailed to say that my reservation was cancelled. Not the first time I’ve had issues with their online-to-store inventory count but pretty sure it’ll be the last time I even consider MicroCenter.

    1. Posted for if anyone makes it down this far…

      Gave in and went to Micro Center for a Pi2 B+ and walked out with a Pi Zero as well. MicroCenter site-to-store reserves the item for 3 days and as those expire they might have a couple on hand.

      Cashier told me the system shows inventory as -6.

  17. You guys must be going nuts. We are talking about computers (in part) under 10$. All in chip (I have two) and Raspi (I have 10+) are what they are. Why fight?

    Chip is where Raspi was in 2013 (1+ years old). Wifi enabled and headless. But way behind on production and use. Raspi b2 is still my choice. It seems zero once available, like model a will be more trouble than it is worth. Wifi for B3 would be a plus (or next b2 zero). Once you have wifi, remote kvm with no wires would be good. And Lipo power would be great. There is nothing wrong w any of the Raspi models. And chip has a lot to prove.

    No need to battle. Both should win for their own audience. My pick is a B3 around its birthday In march. :)

  18. LOL the comments read like they where copied and pasted from when the Raspberry Pi was first announced and shipped. Same old pissing and moaning about rip off retailers and shipping companies.

  19. Power consumption should be great, given what isn’t on the board. I think I will use one of these to replace a chumby hackerboard (that lost the proprietary-and-past-my-google-fu boot-blob sector and thus no longer runs) as my always-on run-the-house computer. I need to twiddle pins, and get accurate time (gps – more effort to hack than the wifi for ntp), and this should do those just fine. I might even be able to provide power and a UART terminal over one phone cord. That would amusing me.

    BTW: Cheers to Guenther for the reminder about the ‘flashhybrid’ package.


  20. a computer for £4 ? Its great but you will need the following
    USB Hub £5
    HDMI /USB Kit £5
    Keyboard and mouse (most people have)
    Wi-fi Dongle £10
    Charger £4.00
    Suddenly becomes expensive (well sort of)

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